Following the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, our nation – if not the world – was forced to grapple with some very powerful emotions: fear, anger, shock, sadness, confusion, heartbreak.
In the aftermath of the most deadly massacre in modern U.S. history, there are still lingering, unanswered questions – mainly how and why – and many difficult conversations that must be had.
One such conversation revolves around event security, and how such large-scale, senseless acts of violence can be avoided in the future. This is sadly a very relevant and timely discussion, considering Austin is in the midst of hosting nearly half a million people at our homegrown music festival, ACL. It seems unimaginable that such horror could strike here at home, but the truth is that the unimaginable has become a reality. Now is the time to prepare.
Fortunately, law enforcement officials were engaging in these conversations and working to prepare for ACL in light of Las Vegas. The Austin Police Department, which has provided security for the festival since its inception and handled its growth firsthand, is well-versed in crowd control and event management. But this year APD did publicly announce its increased presence at the fest, and federal law enforcement as well as Texas State Troopers stepped up to provide an additional layer of safety.
This thought was also not lost on ticket holders and performers alike, as evidenced in this great Rolling Stone piece. While official attendance numbers for weekend one have not yet been released, it appears that the majority didn’t let fear deter them from enjoying a few days of live music, or stop them from living their lives. And right there is the key.
If there’s one thing the last few months has taught us, it’s that we – namely we Texans – are a strong, resilient bunch. The Texas spirit is alive and well, folks, as if that was ever in doubt. We don’t just stand up in the face of adversity, we look it straight in the eye and say, “Not today.” Whether it’s standing up to fear and the threat of irrational violence by showing up in droves to enjoy good music and have a good time, or rushing to disaster areas with boats to pull victims from treacherous floodwaters, along with food, supplies and whatever donations are needed, Texans show up. We do it for each other, and we do it for ourselves – because we don’t know when we’ll be the next ones in need.
In the ever-changing, unpredictable world we live in, one thing is for sure: Don’t Mess with Texas.